Texas Bill Would Allow People To Sue People Who Perform In Drag
Texas House Bill 4378 aims to put a de facto bounty on "drag" performed in the presence of anyone under 18. Regardless of how you feel about events like "Drag Storytime", this bill presents an incredibly slippery slope in which all kinds of people could be sued and harassed for simply existing in public.
Let me start by clarifying that there is a tremendous difference between drag at the club at 2 a.m. and someone who is in drag, in public, during "normal business hours" shall we say. If you go to any club that isn't a bacchanal by 2 a.m., you are going to really boring places. However, for the sake of argument, let's put that aside and discuss how the wording of this bill allows for the systematic harassment of any non-gender conforming individual.
For instance, I enjoy cosplaying, that is, dressing up as some of my favorite pop culture characters, generally at comic conventions, but other cosplay events exist. I fully intend to dress as Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force because it will be really, really funny if I do. I was born a woman, Carl is a balding man in sweatpants. The place I will cosplay will have children around.
Granted, I have no plan to sing or dance "or otherwise perform in a lascivious manner," but who determines what that even means? If I do karaoke with a dirty word in it, would you be in the right to sue me for $5000 because I'm wearing a fake mustache? If my sweatpants slip and show the top of my undies, is that "lascivious"? Also, what does "perform" mean in this context? A stage? Speaking in a different voice than my own?
Are you starting to see how this could be used to harass nearly anyone over nearly anything?
As a cis woman who just likes to goof, I'll probably be okay- for now. This law could be as broad as punishing a female comedian for wearing pants. But the most immediately threatened population is transgender folks. This law could keep them from even doing karaoke.
If the concern was genuinely for children, the law would simply seek to ban minors from attending any performance intended for adults. Making it specifically about people performing dressed as, "a gender that is different than the performer ’s gender recorded at birth" is a blatant attempt at transgender erasure. Or to put it bluntly, it is the beginning of a bureaucratically exercised genocide.
If you are unbothered by the harassment of transgender people, remember that this is how bigger injustices and tragedies start. First, it will be the transgender. Then gay. Then women. I am not kidding, nor am I being dramatic. If we are forced back into gender norms that are 100 years old, then I could lose all my rights and privileges to exist as I please in public. And I swear to you, I will not go quietly into that good night.
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